The Kingbees and Simian Ghost

Arthur Nassson

The Kingbees “The Kingbees”

Singer-Guitarist Jamie James formed The Kingbees in 1980 with Micheal Rummans on bass and Rex Robert on drums. They had formed a tight trio paying homage to the early spirit of rock and roll, and sounds like the “lost link” between the Power Pop sound and Rockabilly. Signed by RSO records they had a hit in Detroit with “My Mistake” the following year. It’s a textbook rock and roll single with a catchy bridge that just sticks in your head.

Comparisons to The Stray Cats are appropriate here, “Sweet Girl To Me,”  “Man Made for Love” and “Fast Girls” are fast paced rockers that have plenty of energy. But they aren’t afraid of slower rockers like “No Respect” or danceable guitar pop on “Once Is Not Enough.” Thanks to Omnivore Records for reissuing this lost gem that shows that after 35 years these Bees have plenty of sting. Highly Recommended.
power pop
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Simian Ghost

Simian Ghost “The Veil”

Simian Ghost is an alternative pop act from Sandviken/Gävle, Sweden, consisting of Sebastian Arnström, Erik Klinga, Mathias Zachrisson, Maja Agnevik and Wilhelm Magnusson. I’m very picky when it comes to alternative pop, but this band got my attention.

Opening with the rich harmonies of “Float” are very Beach Boys like, and the bright “Cut Off Point” merges nicely into this ethereal atmosphere.  Fans of the recent Orange Peels LP will want to check out this album, as “A Million Shining Colours” is bold and shimmering in its presentation. A few spare acoustics break up the sunshine, like “August Sun” and “Fight Even” but there too many highlights to ignore. Listen to “The Ocean Is A Whisper” or “Be A Good Kid” on good headphones and marvel at the depth of the sound, and “Never Really Knew” is a little more commercial but just as compelling. With 18 tracks it will take a little effort, but totally worth it.
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Arthur Nasson and The Roaring Juniors

Arthur Nassson

Arthur Nasson “The Emperor’s New Sound” EPs

Massachusetts musician-filmmaker Arthur Nasson is a force of nature on the amazing title track, mixing boogie-rock with catchy pop chorus and brilliant guitar break. A little like Todd Rundgren meets Ben Folds, Arthur follows the beat of his own drum here. “Purple Swan” is another gem that starts with an atonal verse that dovetails into a bright piano chorus. He’s also got his progeny in the act with one son Graham doing drums, and brother Colin on guitar. And they do a great job here too.

“Tiger By The Claws” is another winner, with a layered piano melody and bouncy chorus with nice backing harmonies. “Multiverse” is a trippy, but strong song with rich instrumentation that boasts a fantastic guitar solo. The instrumental “Graham’s Gentlemen’s Club” closes out one of the better EPs I’ve heard in a while. Highly Recommended.
power pop

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Roaring Juniors

The Roaring Juniors “Perennials” and “Bomb Pop”

Michigan band The Roaring Juniors have been very busy this year. The band still has some rough edges but makes such fun catchy pop you’ll find it hard to nit-pick. “Sweet Marie” is a fast tempo gem about that first date, “The Lamp Burns Above Him” has plenty of jangle and “Short Sleepover” has twang and drum beats to spare, like The Beatles in the Cavern. When the band tries to shift the style, it labors to keep the listener (“Wicked  Scarecrow Blues”) but most of the tunes rock and stomp like “East Side Tilly.”

The band not only produced its sophomore LP, but put out Bomb Pop! – a FREE compilation featuring select tracks from all of The Roaring Juniors discography, including three previously unreleased songs from the 2015 Perennials sessions! So support these guys; you buy one album and get comp FREE. You can’t beat that for value!
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Singles: Vegas With Randolph, The Autumn Defense and Greg Chiapello

Vegas With Randolph has been slowly releasing singles (in preparation for a new album). This one is exceptional, with the driving chorus and dense guitars. “Jacob” is an adrenaline pumping tale of an exhilarating experience, its resulting bumps and bruises, and the triumph of the thirst for the thrill of the ride.

The Autumn Defense goes all “Kermit” on this cover of Joe Raposo’s biggest hit for Sesame Street. Beautifully done.

Greg Chiapello is a soft-spoken troubadour from Brisbane, Australia who is currently working on his debut EP. After hearing “Hot Coffee” you’ll get that caffeine-like high for your weekend!

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Dot Dash and The Doughboys

Dot Dash

Dot Dash “Earthquakes & Tidal Waves ”

We’ve followed Dot Dash for years now, and lead singer Terry Banks continues to perfect the melodic dense rock that combines Guided By Voices and The Clash in equal doses. With the legendary Mitch Easter producing you get short sweet power tracks like the anthems “The Winter of Discontent” and the catchy “Flowers” featuring new lead guitarist Steve Hansgen’s clean guitar riffs.

“Rainclouds” is one of the rare conventional rock tunes here, and “Satellite (Far Out)” boasts a dense atmospheric chorus and amazing guitar solo. The band then veers a little heavier with the “Walls Closing In”, but the melodic sense returns with “Transparent Disguise” “Thru the Dark” and “Semaphore.” It finally slows tempo a little for the ender “Sleep, Sleep.” Overall the band sounds great, a tight post-punk power pop that will appeal to indie rock enthusiasts of any age. Highly Recommended. If you order from Kool Kat Musik it includes a bonus CD of demos/live tracks.
power pop
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Doughboys

The Doughboys “Hot Beat Stew”

On the band’s fifth album, The Doughboys are still churning out that good ole R&B styled garage rock. And you can tell compared to earlier LPs that the rough barroom sound gets stripped down to it’s essence with minimal production, almost like listening to the band “live” in the studio. “Be My Baby” is a potential hit that sounds so effortless, because Mike Caruso, Gar Francis, Richie Heyman & Myke Scavone play so well together.

The band can still pump out those catchy anthems that sound like lost Rolling Stones classics, as “Shake It Loose” matches Mick and Kieth in their prime. Additional standouts include: “Don’t Come Crying To Me,” “Long Way Down,” “You Can’t Catch Me” and “For Your Love.” The band also explores an acoustic mid-tempo ballad with “Soho Girl” very much in the spirit of The Kinks. And the 3rd person story-song “Travelin’ Salesman” has a southern flavor with a distinctive Bo Diddley influence. You can’t go wrong with this tasty Stew.
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The Orange Peels “Begin the Begone”

The Orange Peels

The Orange Peels “Begin the Begone”

Its hard to mention this album without the circumstances behind it. The Orange Peels lead singer, guitarist and keyboardist Allen Clapp and his bassist wife Jill Pries were in a near fatal car accident while on the way to a concert. They escaped with only minor injuries, and made it to the stage that evening. But following that event, they rushed into the studio to start Begin The Begone. With lead guitarist John Moreman and drummer Gabriel Coan, the band set about doing things a little differently.

Most of the songs are related to the experience, “Head Cleaner” and “Fleeing the Scene” are aggressive, but detailed pop gems with bright chords, big drum beats and REM-like base lines. With “New Moon” the songs add layers of psychedelic textures and shimmering rhythms. All very much like classic Orange Peels, but just a little darker.

Then the album really takes off with “Embers” built on a great piano melody and angular guitar accompaniment, Clapp sounds great throughout here. Both “Tidepool” and “post and Beam” are compelling instrumentals here, one a casual dreamscape and the other a drum dream sequence that blew me away – definitely not filler. It leads up to Moreman’s guitar on “9” and the catchy verses about the highway driving that takes place after the accident, “when I think of what we’ve been through, it’s a wonder we’re alive…” Clapp intones. Then “Satellite Song” channels the West Coast brilliance of Curt Boechetter and the Millennium. It ends with the symphonic kaleidoscope that is “Wintergreen,” and after a few listens you realize this isn’t your average album, but a modern classic. Makes my top ten list easily and arguably the best Orange Peels album ever.
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